Thoughts of spring instantly activate a mental image of a specific scene in my mind: a late April day near the end of my sophomore year in high school. I see the scene as an out-of-body experience. I’m standing near the gray, limed-oak table in the dining room where the rest of the family is still sitting at breakfast. I’m ready to leave for school. The sun is shining brightly outside the picture window as I gaze out on the ponderosa pines lining the rim of the canyon beyond the fence, and the fragrance of lilac mixed with apricot blossoms wafts through the open window.
The focal point of the scene is the dress I’m wearing. It is my personal archetype of spring. I made this dress of the butter-yellow calico, sprigged with blocks of tiny spring green leaf motifs, that my grandmother sent me as a birthday gift a couple of weeks earlier. It’s a simple dress, with a scoop neckline, simple elbow length sleeves, and gathered skirt, and I added a sewn-in cummerbund and sash of solid green, matching the print. I feel like the Spirit of Spring in this dress. I love it more than any I’ve had, before or since. My heart bursts with gratitude that my grandmother let me make my own decision about how to use the fabric.
Sinking into the scene, I recall the joy of being sixteen, with the ink hardly dry on my driver’s license, busy as a bee pollinating apple trees with the drama club’s full-score production of Oklahoma!, chairing a Rainbow Girls’ bake sale, helping write the class skit for Topper Review, practicing my string bass solo for Music Festival, and even studying now and then. Life was good!
For me, spring is synonymous with buttery yellow, joy and sunshine, lilacs and fruit blossom scents, the buzzing of bees, freedom from sweaters, sweeping projects, and infinite possibility.
Today I glance out the window, looking for swollen buds on the forsythia, scanning the sky for swollen buds on trees, and counting the days until the first coltsfoot blossoms appear on that small sunny slope just down the road, as they predictably do between March 21 and March 25. I think about looking for something to wear, something buttery yellow, to offset the lingering clouds of winter.
This memory is not a story, but it’s the stuff of which stories are made. It encapsulates the joy and unbridled optimism of being sixteen, sure that April Love is just around the corner, and experiencing life to the hilt in the meantime.
I have similar memories for fall, Christmas, Easter, and other annual events. I write these memories down, with every sensory detail, to jumpstart my memory when I do write of these times, or of spring, or anything remotely related. I store them in a a folder full of “joy fragments.” As they stand, they may not interest anyone else, but they are worth their weight in gold to me. I read them when I need a Bliss Break.
What image comes to your mind when you think of spring?
Write now: about moments of bliss you have experienced, such as a spring day, the feel and smell of a newborn nestled against your cheek, snuggling with a kitten, flying down the hill on a bicycle ... pour it all out in vivid living color, smell, skin sensation, and all.